Your voice is the primary medium to connect with, and to convey your message across to your audience. Regardless how good your visual display is, or how well prepared you are with the props for your audience to lay their hands on, or even how high you’re able to maintain the level of the energy throughout the whole presentation, it will all come down to nothing if you can’t bring your voice out to touch the audience. Or even worse, your audience can’t hear how well you spoke due to some unforeseen technical problems.
Unless if there’s only a handful of people in the audience, and that you’re speaking in a relatively enclosed room, you’re gonna need some kind of a voice amplification tool, so that you can be heard clearly by every individual person out there in the audience. Remember, if they somehow lost the physical connection with you (in this case, your voice), they’ll eventually lose their emotional connection with you too (their interest).
Best case scenario, they’ll continue to sit there and start day dreaming. Worst case scenario, they’ll stand up, and start walking away. And when one person does that, you can bet your bottom dollar that many will soon follow suit.
Public Address System And Microphones
So the solution is to make sure that unless you’re speaking to a handful of people, in a small enclosed room, you’ll have to use some sort of a voice amplification tool. And the most common solution will be to use a microphone.
Most venues would have their own in-house Public Address (PA) System of some sort. So before you even start to prepare your talk at the said venue, check with the organiser if they’ll provide one for you. And while the PA System is most probably a fixed asset there, the input tool (microphone) is not. And as a speaker, you’re also free to bring your own if you so wish.
Me personally, I usually bring my own microphone. It’s part of my personal branding, but you’re free to use one that’s provided to you by the organiser. All the same, always check with them beforehand.
So let’s take a look at some of the more common types of microphones that you can use for your presentations.
This is the most basic level of all the types of microphones. There’s nothing high-tech about it, and it’s guaranteed to just work. There are only two things for you to know about it. The first one is to identify which end of the cord goes into the microphone, and which end into the PA system. The second is, well, you just need to know where the power switch is on the microphone handle to turn it on.
The advantages are that there’s no battery for you to maintain, and this is usually the type of microphone that will be provided by the organiser. Most importantly, they always work. It’s a very good choice if you’re delivering a speech from a static position, like in the image above, standing behind the rostrum.
But if you need to move around the stage a bit and you don’t have a mic-stand, or if you have to use both your hands for some reason, it’s gonna be quite a handful. I’ve personally seen people tucking the microphone between their armpit while they perform some tasks with their hands. And, if you need to move around quite a bit while on stage, make sure you don’t trip over the cords when walking up and down the stage. You sure don’t wanna fall flat on your face, if you happen to trip on one.
Wireless Microphone (Handheld)
As the name implies, there’s no cord to link the microphone to the PA System. It’s all done via a wireless transmitter, built into the microphone handle itself. Similar to the wired variety, you still have to hold up the microphone to your mouth when you speak into it. And you still have to put it down somewhere, or tuck it between your armpit, if you need to use both your hands to perform any other task.
The advantage here is that you don’t have to think about tripping on the cords that are lying all over the floor anymore, since there are no cords to speak of. Also like its wired cousin, wireless microphone are usually supplied with the venue too, so again, nothing for you to worry about its maintenance or workability.
But do take note that for it to be wireless, it needs to convert audible voice signals to radio waves, and then transmit the radio waves to the receiver, which is, in turn, plugged into the PA System. And for that to happen, you’re gonna need some sort of power to work the transmitter. This is usually in the form of a battery, housed inside the handle of the microphone. And when you have a battery in the loop, you’re gonna want to keep an eye on the battery level. You sure don’t wanna end up with a flat battery right in the middle of your presentation.
Wireless Microphone (Handsfree)
If you need to free both hands during the course of your presentation (like I always do), you’re gonna need a Handsfree Wireless Microphone. They’re known by many names, clip-mic, hidden-mic, lapel-mic, boom-mic, lavalier-mic, etc. Take a look at this Wikipedia page for a more detailed description and what looks like.
What it is, basically, is a small (usually hidden) microphone, attached to your body to pick up your voice. It is linked via a short length of wire to a wireless transmitter, hidden away from the view of the audience, usually inside a jacket pocket or clipped onto the back of your waist belt.
The advantage here is pretty obvious – you have both your hands free to do whatever you want to do throughout the whole course of your time on stage. This is pretty important, as I advocate the use of body language on top of your verbal language to deliver your message. The usage of hand signals are very effective in conveying emotions.
However, like its handheld cousin, it is also powered by battery. And thus, battery level also has to be closely monitored too.
Another disadvantage is that, being rather pricier than its larger handheld cousin, most venues will not provide one for you to use in their venue. So if you’re really keen on going this path, you’re gonna have to purchase one for your own use. This little inconvenience will be advantageous on the long run. You can personally monitor your own tools, and are less dependent on third-party technicians to make sure that they’re at the top of their form before your scheduled presentation. Plus, plugging in the receiver to the PA system is exactly the same as using the handheld version, so no confusion where the technicians are concerned.
I Digress A Little, But…
There was once, during a Q&A session following my presentation, I had a member of the audience asked me if I “swallowed the microphone”, as the lavalier-mic that I was using then was completely invisible…
You see, unlike most people (and you can see this on TV news and interviews) who clip the lavalier-mic visibly onto their jacket lapel, ties, or even on their shirt placket (if they don’t wear a tie), I prefer to clip mine onto my shirt placket, directly behind my tie. In effect, the tie actually hides the microphone completely from view. This gives a nice clean look, not to mention free both my hands for gesturing during my presentations.
Voice Your Conclusion
As a presenter or a trainer, your voice is your most important asset. Shouting out at the top of your lungs to make sure the last row of people can hear you clearly is gonna put a lot of stress to your voice box, which will eventually lead to you losing your voice. And you don’t want to do that… Especially not halfway through your presentation…